Guelphs and Ghibellines

Guelphs and Ghibellines

Opposing factions in German and Italian politics during the Middle Ages. The terms Guelph (see Welf dynasty) and Ghibelline (from Waiblingen, the castle of the Welfs' Hohenstaufen opponents) first acquired significance in Italy during the reign of the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, who tried to assert imperial authority over northern Italy and was opposed by Pope Alexander III. The split between the Guelphs, who sided with the papacy, and the Ghibellines, who were sympathetic to the Holy Roman emperors, contributed to chronic strife in the cities of northern Italy in the 13th–14th century, reflected in Dante's Divine Comedy.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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